Internship spotlight: Mitchell Seitz and The Padnos Museum Internship Program at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

By: Patti McDonald

Name: Mitchell Seitz

Year: Senior

Major(s): James Madison College and history

Can you explain what your position entailed during your internship with the Gerald R. Ford Museum? 

The Gerald R. Ford Museum has a special endowed internship by the Padnos family, which is a family in the Grand Rapids area. The family provides money to the Ford Museum to have someone to work in the museum.  My internship was remote and online, and my position was based on assisting the museum with a project to catalogue Gerald R. Ford’s accomplishments during his time in office as President of the United States. I got the chance to work with the museum’s archives and primary sources.  

What inspired you to apply for an internship? 

I was not originally a history major; I’m a James Madison major. I added history as a secondary major later. When I applied to the internship, I thought it’d be interesting to see what the internship would be like from a historical perspective in case I wanted to pursue a path in museum archives as a career. I think the internship was such an amazing opportunity to work with the resources that the Gerald Ford Museum has available, and it was exciting to just dive in and see the impact that President Ford has had on the country. 

I think President Ford is such an interesting president. He’s the only president who has ties to Michigan and he’s the only president that became president without ever being elected. This internship really expanded my knowledge on President Ford and his history.  

What did you learn? 

I think this internship really opened my eyes to what opportunities are possible as a history major. A lot of people think as a history major, the only career path is becoming a professor, but that isn’t true. There are several career opportunities for history majors, including working in a museum or even getting a job within government. I am glad I decided to not only major in history, but also apply for an internship at the museum. I believe I am more well-rounded as a young professional, now.  

What are some of your future goals? 

I’m applying to law schools right now. But, you know, if that career path doesn’t work out, I would absolutely consider a career working in a museum with archives and primary sources. 

It’s exciting and nerve-wracking to apply to law schools across the country. I think it’s exciting because, you know, there’s a new opportunity in front of me. However, I think it is nerve wracking too because law school will be more demanding than undergrad. I really am looking forward to seeing where I go next, though. 

What have you learned from majoring in history? 

I think my history major has provided me with a good set of research and writing skills that will help me stand out at whichever law school I go to. In my opinion, the law and history go very well together. History is almost like taking a piece of evidence and trying to make a story with it. As for the law, I think that’s very similar to what a quorum is. If you are a lawyer, you take different pieces of evidence and try to tell a story with that evidence to the judge and the jury. History major’s kind of have the upper hand; we’re able to take all this complicated evidence and make it into a full and complete story.